NORTEL'S Asia chief, Michael Pangia, believes WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), particularly its mobile variant, has a very bright future in Asia, especially in large countries like India which do not yet have extensive broadband infrastructure.
However, he's not too sure that there is a strong business case for WiMax in Singapore.
'The business case to justify WiMax (in Singapore) becomes more difficult because of the fact that Singapore is introducing WiFi in a large scale here (through the Wireless@SG initiative),' Mr Pangia said.
'When you look at mesh WiFi and when you look at WiMax, the big advantage WiMax provides is mobility. At the same time it can provide a much wider coverage. However, when you are dealing with a (geographically) small place like Singapore there has not been much happening with WiMax because everybody is already connected.'
However, Singapore is a great place for testbedding new technologies in the WiMax space, and Nortel is working with a few companies here. 'But is it (Singapore) a significant market for WiMax in the early stage? It's probably not,' Mr Pangia noted. Mesh WiFi is effectively a network of WiFi hotspots. A user can jump from one hotspot to another seamlessly while on the move, much like mobile phone connections jump from one base station to another without the user noticing it.
The more recent WiMax is actually a family of technologies that includes fixed WiMax, technically desig- nated as 802.16d-2004, and mobile WiMax, 802.16e-2005.
Nortel showcased its WiMax solutions for delivering bandwidth-hungry mobile video applications during WiMax Asia 2007 in Singapore last week.
According to Mr Pangia, the company is a pioneer in OFDM (short for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) and MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technologies and these help it in the development of fourth generation (4G) telephony solutions.
This article first appeared in BT on May 21, 2007